The Case For a Creator: Student Edition {A review}

The student edition of Lee Strobel’s Case For A Creator is a small book, only  98 pages but don’t let its size fool you! With interviews with Jonathan Wells, Robin Collins, Michael Behe, and more, along with studies on Cosmology, Physics, Biochemistry, and Biological Information, this little book will lead you on a compelling adventure to unveil the truth about our universe. It’s challenging and well thought-out, with lists of resources and detailed notes. I highly recommend it to any junior high, high school, or college student who is looking for some earth shaking evidence.

A word of warning: Don’t try to read this after eight o’clock pm! The scientific proofs and interviews are mind-blowing during the day and mind-boggling at night.

Mr. Strobel also uses Scripture to back up his claims, which I appreciate. I like that the book is his journey from atheist to Christian, so most of it is showing you his attempts to disprove Intelligent Design–and it didn’t work.

So students, go pick up a copy! It seriously will amaze you!

(My 14 year old daughter read this book and this is her review of The Case For A Creator Student edition by Lee Strobel. You can find this at your local Christian bookstore or online retailers.)

We received a free copy of this book from Booklook Bloggers for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

Bend Your Brain {A review}

I am not fond of jigsaw puzzles. I have a take it or leave it mindset with them. I rarely get sucked into doing a puzzle. My girls love them, my friends love them.

But if you’re talking brain puzzles. Oh I’m your girl. I love them.

And I hate them.

I love when I get the right answer. I hate when I have to look at the answers in the back first.

Three Rivers Press has published a book, Bend Your Brain, 151 Puzzles, Tips and Tricks to Blow (And Grow) Your Mind. It is full of brain bending games. The puzzles are divided into categories like:

  • Visual Perception,
  • Word Skills,
  • Critical Thinking,
  • Coordination, and
  • Memory.

Mr FullCup and I were both drawn into the Visual Perception section. Our favorite was “Wordies”.  A box with a word, part of a word, like this:

from asciiartist.com

These were our favorites. Some were hard, some like this one were easy.

I love words.  I use words every day, either in reading, writing or speaking. This category, however, was the hardest one for me.  I love a good word search, sometimes a crossword puzzle, but I like to know what words I’m looking for, or with a crossword puzzle where the words go.

We all had fun doing this experiment from the Coordination section.

Bend your middle finger towards the palm of your hand, place hand on a hard, flat surface. Lift one at a time your thumb, index finger, and pinky. Now try lifting your ring finger.

Can’t do it, can you?  Can you guess why?

If you like brain, mind-twisting puzzles, you will want to get this book! I filled in the answers with a pencil to start and erased them when I was done so I can use it over and over. Maybe I’ll get better.

Each chapter slowly builds in difficulty. I think that is to give us a false sense of security and intelligence. Hahahaha. No, probably not.

Christmas is coming and this would make a great stocking stuffer gift!!

 

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Jesus Is___________ {A Review}

A few months ago I read the book by Judah Smith, Jesus is, you can read my review here. I was tickled to find out he has written a student version of the book, I was even more tickled to find my girls could review it for Tommy Nelson. here. I was tickled to find out he has written a student version of the book, I was even more tickled to find my girls could review it for Tommy Nelson.

From my 11-year old.

I love this book because it is really one of those books that gets to the heart of the issue without getting way over your head. I was sad with it ended. (Me: No joke she was said. She finished it one morning and started over that afternoon.)

Judah Smith combines humor and Biblical truth in a book that teaches that no one is too far from the love of Christ. Filled with laughter and insight, this book shows Jesus for Who He really is.

Discovering Who He is changes who you are. He is changes who you are. you are.

 

And from my 14-year old

I recently had the opportunity to read the student edition of Pastor Judah Smith’s books, Jesus Is. It’s recommended for ages 10-14, but I think students even as old as 16 or 17 would enjoy it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I learned a lot from Mr. Smith’s unique writing voice and style. He has a great way of using laugh-out-loud humor to convey his messages, but he also knows when to wind it down and drive his point home seriously. I think a lot of teenagers will enjoy his comfortable, friendly voice.

This would be a great Bible study book as it’s divided into sections with discussion questions. Mr. Smith digs into topics like Jesus; grace, His desire for a friendship with each of us, and how He is the point of our lives. He uses Scripture to back up his statements, which I appreciate. He challenges us to step in and really look at Who Jesus is.

I said it before, but it’s worth repeating: I really enjoyed Jesus Is! I think every student between 10 and 17 need to read it.

 

We received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of review. All opinions are our own.

Making Sense of the Senseless

If you’re aren’t fond of honesty, you might want to pass right over this post.  Honestly. I won’t be offended in the least. Mainly because I’m sure I’ll never know if you read it or not, but more to the point because sometimes the words inside my head just need to get out, so I can examine them more closely. I have no real idea where this blog post is going today. All I know is what is in my head is slowly driving me crazy with the thoughts.

I learned this week as if for the first time, that “it” isn’t supposed to happen to me, but also “it” isn’t supposed to happen to my friends either.

I learned husbands aren’t supposed to die. At least not before their wife. Especially not when they leave behind a wife, and three young children.

I’ve learned, again as if for the first time, that sometimes I don’t agree with God and how His perfect will operates. Sometimes I want to tell Him what is best and what He can and should do.

Sometimes I want to rail, and shake my fist at heaven, demanding an answer to my sobbing whys.

In my angst, I want to shout that He’s not fair! That He doesn’t understand the suffering. I tend to forget that He was “well-acquainted with our sufferings”, and that “He learned obedience through the things He suffered.”

I want to scream that God doesn’t understand. But the reality is, I’m the one who doesn’t understand. I don’t understand how He works. How His plan is fulfilled through crazy humans like me. I don’t understand how it can be “good” for a man to die before he’s reached the age of 40.

Life begins at 40. Does that mean his life had not yet begun? I know that’s just a stupid saying, but it begs the question anyway.

I don’t understand why we have to have stupid things like death and epilepsy.

They’re both really, really stupid, you know?

But then my heart is drawn back to THE Truth. I don’t have to understand. I don’t have to be able to answer all the questions. I don’t even have to have all the questions, or even ask them.

I have but to trust. Trust the One who knows all, the end from the beginning.  The One who made all things, who holds all things together.

Even my heart. Even my friend, whose heart is shattered more than mine. Who is walking through “the valley of the shadow of death” with her three young children by her side, without her mate, without their Daddy.

I have to entrust my heart, and her to our Father’s keeping. Knowing He alone has the answers, but also He alone has all the comfort she will ever need.

To the memory of Brad Hale, April 15, 1975-September 18, 2014

Before Amen by Max Lucado {A Review}

The Power of a Simple Prayer. 

Max Lucado admits he is a prayer wimp. Or as he actually states in the opening pages of his book, Before Amen, he is a recovering prayer wimp. With that line I was hooked. 

I struggle with prayer. Okay, I struggle with prayer when life is good. When things are going along smoothly, or as smoothly as they can in my life, I tend to forget to pray. I don’t take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 

Shoot I barely remember to thank Him for each meal. Instead I choose to snarf it all down. Then I berate myself for not returning thanks for His blessing, His provision. 

Even sometimes when life is hard and it hurts I find it difficult to pray. Because sometimes I blame God for the difficulty. Okay, more than sometimes. I know mentally that I reside in a fallen world, and I daily battle my own sin nature (even though at times I do indeed forget that), I still often think God could just fix it all and I’d never be hurt again and life would be smooth. 

I often forget God. Period. In good times and hard times. He is often the last person on my mind. 

Yeah, and I have the audacity to call myself a Christian, a believer, a disciple-follower of Jesus. 

In Mr. FullCup’s job he has a time of prayer on the radio. Live. He prays fervently, passionately. People often come to me and express their gratitude for his prayers. They complain when they miss hearing his prayer for a day. 

I’ll admit, I get a little jealous. I don’t pray like that. I have never prayed like that. When someone asks me to pray in a group my mind goes completely blank. I can think of nothing intelligent…or stupid to say at all. In fact, it’s not just when I’m asked to pray in a group. Often when I attempt to pray on my own the same thing happens. 

Max knows people like that too. And while he doesn’t specifically say he’s jealous, I’m confident that he has felt those pangs of envy on more than one occasion. 

What is to be done with this? Why are some people “blessed” with a strong, vibrant prayer life and other people struggle just to string coherent words together when life is good? 

We aren’t alone in our struggles and questions. In fact, we’re in very good company. You see the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They didn’t ask Him to teach them to evangelize, to break bread and feed 5000 men, or how to raise someone from the dead, how to heal the sick, or how to make the lame walk. No, they asked Him to teach them to pray. 

Max condenses the Lord’s Prayer to six simple lines. Lines we can all easily remember and pray in a moment. These simple lines…easy to remember….are a springboard for our minds to add our own petitions. 

Father, You are good. I need help. Heal me and forgive me. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus name Amen. 

Since reading the book and following the prayer I find my brain can’t stop at “You are good”. My mind naturally adds more praise. He is good. He is the ONLY One who is Good. He is good no matter what the outcome is. 

I add what I need help with, what my problem is at the moment. I’m specific when I ask for healing and forgiveness. I specifically ask for specific people to have help with their specific need at the moment. If I don’t know, simply saying “they need help” is enough. God knows. 

If you struggle with your prayer life, if you wish you could pray better, longer, stronger, with more fire, faith and fervency, this book is for you.  The books is small enough read quickly, I read it in an afternoon. But powerful enough you’ll want to read it with pen in hand. You’ll want to pause often to pray. You’ll want to read it over and over. 

There is a study guide in the back of the book. So grab some friends and learn together. There is also a dvd with 4 sessions, perfect for studying with your Sunday School class, Bible study, small group or your church as a whole. 

I LOVED this book. The only think I was not in love with is something I don’t like about many Christian non-fiction books. The lack of capitalizing personal pronouns referring to God. 

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

A Series of Unfortunate Events

That is what I named my calendar today. Not that I think it truly is a series of Unfortunate events, not all. But it’s just a funny name for a calendar.

I’m not a very organized person. I’m usually pretty happy if my socks match. And are folded. In the drawer. My oldest wonders how on earth I’ve lived this long without being “properly” organized. She takes Type-A to a whole new level. And that is okay. She refuses me the privilege of putting my books away on the bookshelf.

“Why?” you ask. Because I find a spot the book will fit in and there it stays. Not her. She organizes them all alphabetically by author and series.

School has started and with that our schedule has returned to it’s normal pace. Only this year we added a few things to our schedule.

The 11 year old plays volleyball with our local Christian school. She’s had two practices so far and her first game is Wednesday. I plan on being one of “those Momma’s” who attend every single game. But I won’t be the yelling kind.

The girls are also taking a couple of classes with a homeschool cooperative. Not many. In fact just 2, both will take one and the oldest will take another one.

In working out our schedule on the calendar I was struck by a flash of genius. Why don’t I color code our activities. That way we can see at a glance who has what, when and where.  In the words of the oldest child living in my house, “Momma! This is probably the more organized thing you’ve ever done!”

I fear she is probably correct. Which is why she is still living at this moment.

The above photo of my calender (minus a few events) was posted on facebook and has garnered quite the comments. I’ve been blessed by friends commenting different apps and calendars that they have found useful.

I spent the better part of the morning sitting here working on the calendar, first in long hand and then using google calendar. Now I’m going to try some of the other apps. I’m not pleased with how google calendar looks on my phone.

How do you keep track of your family’s activities?

DreamTreaders by Wayne Thomas Baston {A Review}

Archer is one of three DreamTreaders. He often battles the Nightmare Lord, sometimes with good results, sometimes with not so good outcomes. 

Archer is 14 and impulsive. He often doesn’t follow direct orders from Master Gabriel, and that leads to dastardly consequences. 

When the other two DreamTreaders disappear it is up to Archer to find them. But can he find them without disobeying Master Gabriel? Can he find them in time? Who can he trust to help him? Will he choose to trust the right person? 

Just what is a DreamTreader? A person who treads the Dream World repairing rifts in the dream fabric. What causes the rifts? Lucid Walkers for one. What is a Lucid Walker? A person, not a DreamTreader, who through some means (never explained in the book) enters the dream while still awake and participates in the dream. They have super natural abilities. But every time they use their abilities (available only in the dream) they lose some of their energy. They must reserve enough energy to get back to their anchor so they can return to the real world. To not make it back by 12 tolls of the clock means they are stuck permanently in the dream. To be stuck permanently in the dream means basically you lose your mind in the real world. 

This is, of course a work of fiction. Supposedly of Christian fiction. Written by Wayne Thomas Batson is a work of fantasy admittedly fantasy is not my favorite genre. I believe this book was written to be similar to The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. But I think it falls short. 

This book has a 14 year old, a freshman in high school acting more like a parent to his siblings and his own father than his father does. Archer also, in my opinion, goes looking for trouble in the dream. I can’t help but think he is searching for demons to destroy. 

If this is supposed to be a book about good triumphing over evil, God vs. satan, it falls short. There is a figure who, I believe, represents satan (the Nightmare Lord) but there is no one who would represent God. Good doesn’t triumph over evil. Yes, Archer wins the final battle with the Nightmare Lord but in the process commits murder (unknowingly and in the dream), and on more than on occasion he completely defies his master’s orders. With no consequences to himself. 

This book is written for the junior high/high school set. I requested the book to review initially to have my own 14 year old read it. I am glad I read it first. I’m not sure I’ll pass it along to her. I have no issues with fantasy, I have no issues with good triumphing over evil, or God vs. satan books. None at all. But when a book is marketed to Christian teens and says nothing at all about God, or mention Him, or have a character that obviously represents Him, I have issues. 

I want my children to read books by Christian authors who cement their belief about God and how He operates. I want them to know there is a God and I can see Him in this work of fiction. 

Now I do not expect my children to read only Christian books. We frequent the library and bookstores. Had they seen this book in the library and wanted to check it out, I’m not sure I would say yes. There is just something about this book that doesn’t set right with me. 

(I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.)